New best friends: human and electronic drivers understand each other very well indeed, thanks to ZF

The ZF system can automatically adjust the seat position to suit each driver, letting them get in and out of the vehicle in comfort

In the Safe Human Interaction Cockpit (SHI Cockpit) made by ZF in partnership with Faurecia, advanced assistance systems and automated driving functions communicate with the driver simply and effectively. The goal is enhanced vehicle safety and comfort from the point of departure to the destination.

Transfers of control between man and machine are performed unobtrusively and intuitively. The seat can adjust automatically to suit all kinds of driver across a wide variety of situations. The vehicle provides feedback on control interventions in a clear, transparent, and unambiguous way. Thanks to intelligent electronic assistance they are also easy to adjust.

There is often a wide gulf between the potential safety and convenience enhancements that could be achieved by automated driving systems and the perception of the personal vehicle user of how these systems will work. The SHI Cockpit dispels this discrepancy. “It really does simplify the handover scenarios between humans and machines”, states Uwe Class, Director of Safe Mobility Systems in the corporate Advanced Engineering department at ZF. “Furthermore, drivers are kept in the picture about which driving mode is active at any given time. This increases the acceptance level for these important functions.”

Clear task assignment

First of all, the SHI Cockpit advises when road traffic conditions permit automated driving. The vehicle can take over as soon as the driver lets go of the steering wheel. This is sensed by a Hands-On-Detection (HOD) function within the steering wheel system and the wheel also rises and retracts forward, but remains within range. Thanks to steer by wire, the steering wheel remains stationary in this driving mode, rather than continuing to track the wheel movements. At the same time, the seat moves backward and downward, and inclines to a steeper angle. To enable it to do so, the seat has an extended range of adjustment.

“Nonetheless, safety remains at a high level because our airbags, the active seat belt, and the active seat-belt clip are integrated in the seat in the SHI Cockpit,” explains Class.

The vehicle uses a number of other methods in addition to the automatic change in seat position to inform the driver that either they have control responsibility or the vehicle does:

Depending on the situation, the SHI Cockpit combines haptic (e.g. vibrating seat belt), visual (e.g. circulating strip of cockpit lights that vary in color), and acoustic (sounds, voice) information. In reverse sequence, the SHI Cockpit can give the driver advance notice to resume control of driving the vehicle. If the driver fails to respond, the vehicle can be programmed to stop once reaching the safest position possible.

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